UK rail workers union rejects new pay offers in long-running dispute

LONDON, February 10 (Reuters) – Britain’s largest rail workers’ union rejected recent wage offers from rail companies on Friday, signaling more pain for commuters who have been disrupted by sporadic strikes since last summer.

Amid a wave of industrial action by health workers and teachers, among others, the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) said the decision came after “detailed” consultation with its 40,000 rail workers.

“The message we’ve gotten loud and clear (from our members) is to reject these horrific offers,” said RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch, adding that it didn’t live up to members’ expectations for pay, job security or working conditions would have fulfilled.

UK Transport Secretary Mark Harper said the RMT’s rejection of the offers was “a kick in the face for passengers” and workers who did not get a vote on the offer.

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“The leaders of the RMT should have had the courage to allow their own members to vote on their own salaries and conditions, rather than making that decision for them behind closed doors,” Harper said in a statement.

Separately, the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA), which represents train drivers, said “thousands” of workers will vote on offers from their employers, but has not officially recommended that its members accept or reject the offers.

The Rail Delivery Group (RDG), which represents train operators, said passengers and RMT members were “deeply dismayed” that the union rejected their offer without a vote from full members.

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RDG had called its offer “best and final” and said it would upgrade services in exchange for pay increases of 5% and 4% for 2022 and 2023, respectively. On Friday it was said that one remained “ready to get involved”.

Hundreds of thousands of workers, many from the public sector, went on strike across Britain last year to demand wage increases from employers, which factor in the worst inflation in four decades.

“Our industrial campaign will continue until we reach a negotiated settlement that meets our members’ reasonable expectations for jobs, pay and working conditions,” Lynch said.

The TSSA said the offers it received represented progress in some areas but would continue to vote on further industrial action and the dispute was ongoing.

Harper, the transport secretary, said Britain’s railways needed to be reformed to be financially sustainable, but “it is now clear that no realistic offer will ever be good enough for the RMT leadership.”

Reporting by Muvija M; additional reporting by William Schomberg; Editing by Andrea Ricci and Deepa Babington

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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